(Originally published 8 September 2009)
For years I've been boring Ulla and the rest of the family, friends, and former colleagues that I wanted to live in a climate where I could grow all the ingredients for ratatouille.
Well, done it.
Actually, not the shallots and garlic yet, as I arrived here too late in the season this year. But aubergines, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes, yes.
The recipe: Use about the same volume of aubergines , courgettes, tomatoes, and red peppers, depending on what quantity you want to make. So one large aubergine would need two or three courgettes, three or four tomatoes, and two largish peppers. As for the shallots, about half the volume of the aubergine, and one clove of garlic per person. These quantities would produce enough ratatouille for four people.
Chop the shallots roughly and fry gently in olive oil so that they become translucent but do not brown. Put them in a heavy bottomed saucepan that has a lid. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for five seconds to loosen their skin, peel, and put straight in the saucepan. Slice the aubergines and fry in the same frying pan as the shallots until lightly browned - they'll soak up masses of olive oil. Then add them to the saucepan. Do the same with the courgettes, and then peppers.
The point about frying each separately is that the end result is not a brown stodge. Add to the saucepan crushed garlic, some thyme, salt and pepper, stir around gently to mix, put on the lid, and simmer gently for about twenty minutes. Can be eaten warm in an omelette or pipérade, or cold the next day as a salad.
I'd like to be able to say that using homegrown vegetables puts the dish in a class above shop bought ingredients. To be honest it doesn't. It just tastes very good. Especially eaten cold the next day.